Terry Francona has now had three-straight winning seasons as manager in Cleveland. His rosters haven’t been as loaded as his past Red Sox teams, but he has squeezed every bit out of his teams in Cleveland.
The AL Central has represented the American League in three out of the last four World Series. The Royals are expected to be one of the favorites to appear in their third-straight. I wouldn’t count out the Tigers either.
The Indians were quiet this offseason. They haven’t made any big moves and currently expected to finish in the middle in the Central. Will they make a big trade during the season?
Here is the 2016 MLB season preview for the Cleveland Indians.
2015 Win/Loss Record: 81-80
Key Additions: RP Dan Otero, 1B Mike Napoli, 3B Juan Uribe, OF Rajai Davis, RP Tommy Hunter, OF Collin Cowgill, OF Joey Butler, RP Joba Chamberlain, OF Michael Choice, SP Ross Detwiler, RP Tom Gorzelanny, OF Robbie Grossman, C Anthony Recker, RP Joe Thatcher, OF Will Venable & RP Craig Stammen
Key Losses: SS Mike Aviles, 3B Chris Johnson, RP Ryan Webb, RP Nick Hagadone, SP Gavin Floyd & OF Jerry Sands
Interleague Schedule: NL East
Projected Starters: Yan Gomes, Carlos Santana, Jason Kipnis, Jose Uribe, Francisco Lindor, Michael Brantley, Rajai Davis, Lonnie Chisenhall & Mike Napoli
Projected Starting Rotation: Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer & Cody Anderson
Closer: Cody Allen
Fantasy Sleeper: OF Rajai Davis – Abraham Almonte failed a drug test and will miss the first 80 games this season. He was supposed to be the starting centerfielder this season since they traded away Michael Bourn late last year. Davis has had success at center and has considerable speed. He was stuck in a platoon the last couple years and still managed to tally up solid SB numbers. A lot can happen during Spring Training, but keep an eye on Davis and see if he gets the starting spot.
Prospect To Keep Your Eye On: OF Bradley Zimmer – The Indians selected Zimmer in the first round in the 2014 MLB Draft. He had solid numbers in High-A last year, but hit a slight wall when he was moved to Double-A. Zimmer is probably at least a year away from appearing in the Majors, but he has a lot of potential to be a power hitter and hit for average.
Team Analysis: The Indians overcame injuries and finished the season with 81 wins. They should have probably lost a few more games, but Terry Francona is as good of a manager as there is in the Majors right now.
The Indians will lean heavily on their starting rotation this season. They have some holes at the bottom of the lineup and I’m not sold on Yan Gomes and Carlos Santana hitting for a better average in the middle of the card. Don’t get me started on Lonnie Chisenhall’s up & down seasons. I just want to see more consistency from their hitters. It was nice to see Jason Kipnis bounce back last season to make up for Gomes and Santana’s downfall.
Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco will need to carry this team if they hope to contend in the AL Central. I’m not sure if they have the bullpen to stay near the top of the division. I predict they will fall a game or two shy of .500.
2016 Wins Over/Under Betting Line: 85 (Prediction: UNDER)
2016 Projected Win/Loss Record: 79-83 (4th in AL Central)
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.